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Pets & Your Health

Any one who is lucky enough to own a pet or find themselves around animals at any stage, could tell you that the company of animals is good for our health.

Everyday animals are able to support people with health related tasks. Animals can help to detect seizures, assist the blind (seeing-eye dogs), play a role in physical therapy and potentially improve our general health with simply just their companionship.

The benefits of having a pet are forever growing, however we have touched on just a few of these reasons.

Stress & Blood Pressure

In 2002 a study was completed by the state university of New York (1) which involved a number of participants that both owned and did not own pets. Participants were put in a stressful situation, with results showing that the pet owners were less likely to have spikes in their blood pressure and heart rates through the situation and were able to bring levels down to their personal norm at a quicker rate, following the exercise.

In regards to keeping your blood pressure down, this can depend on a number of various factors (including medical factors). However, it is not a secret that the blood pressure and heart rate of an individual is more likely to be lower when in a non or less stressful state. Think about when you had a massive day at work and you are greeted with a cuddle from your pet? Stress levels might not completely disappear, but they are generally going to decrease.

Improve your Mood

Along with decreasing possible stress levels animals have been known to have a positive impact on anxiety and depression.

When in the company of an animal, an owner will usually be affectionate and willing to give majority of their attention to the animal. Being around your pet can then become a mindfulness practice, as suddenly your focus is on the animal and not on anxious thoughts, emotions and/or feelings of pain. Along with an unintentional mindfulness practice, animals are able to be present as a non judgement companion, which can also help settle feelings of loneliness.

A survey completed by the Human Bond Research Institute (2) in 2016 involved 2000 participants and a various number of questions relating to individuals, their health and their pets. From this survey, 74% of the participants reported mental health improvements whilst owning a pet and 75% reporting mental health improvements in Friends and family.

Increase Daily Movement 

Everyday we hear that people don’t have the time or energy to exercise, with their busy jobs and generally hectic lifestyles taking up majority of their day.

However, pet owners are actually moving more because of their pets and majority of the time they may not even be aware that they’re doing it. Let’s look at someone with a pet dog for example – not only are you needing to walk your dog, you’re needing to carry that bag of dog food from the shops to the car and from the car to the house, you then need to clean up after it, let it out at night, play fetch and maybe even chase it around the house to reclaim your favourite pair of socks..

All of a sudden your NEAT (Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) has increased and you’ve exerted yourself enough to burn some calories, without even meaning too. (Want to know more about NEAT? – head to our website and check out our blog post)

Help Set Daily Routines

If you have ever been a pet owner, you will know that animals love routine. They will quickly adapt to your daily movements and happily remind you when you don’t stick to your usual routine. (Exercising, eating etc)

Our dog Carla is a perfect example of how pets can help with daily routine.

One example is that each morning when my alarm sounds, she will wake eagerly to go for a walk and will not hesitate to remind me. She will attack my face with kisses or simply sit and make bouts of excited cries until I get out of bed. All of a sudden, I’m less likely to click snooze and up and ready to start the day.

It’s clear that animals have a substantial impact on our health and wellbeing, being supported with not only our own personal experience, but along side a large forever growing list of studies to prove this.

*Just remember, not everyone is in the position to have a pet of their own. It is a large responsibility, that not everyone is ready for. Is that you? Try volunteering at an animal shelter, walking your old neighbours dogs or simply just getting your animal fix from a friends pet.

Resources

1 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12271103

2 – https://habri.org/2016-pet-owners-survey

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